The time has come... all week I have been avoiding this blog post however, all good things must come to an end. This week marks the end of an era, with the beginning of a new adventure. This week I said “see ya later” to my student teaching experience. These past 15 weeks are more than I could have ever asked for and way more than I could have ever imagined. I have learned more than I thought was possible, grew as an educator, and most importantly I gained some of the best memories. Here’s 15 things I learned in 15 weeks.
1. Be willing to adapt. Things rarely go as expected in the classroom. There will always be something that goes wrong it’s inevitable be ready for the impromptu learning opportunities, they usually turn out to be some of best.
2. Take every moment to connect with your students. Even if it seems small like sitting with a student on the bus during an FFA event, those moments are important. Those moments remind you of the why for teaching and allow for a greater connection in the classroom.
3. Be the mentor you always looked up to. I have always looked up to my agriculture teacher and he is one of the reasons I decided to do this whole teaching thing. Try your best to leave that impact on your own students.
4. Look for ways to connect with your cooperating teacher. I was blessed with not one but two of the best cooperating teachers. I continued to connect with them until my last day, most of the time it was over some type of food.
5. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. It’s okay to try something different in the classroom. Trust me your students will thank you for giving them a break from the same old PowerPoint during the day.
6. Take time to reflect. Sometimes at the end of the day you want to just go home and relax or in my case take a nap. It’s important to take 10 or 15 minutes at the end of the day to reflect back on how the day went. How could lessons have gone better? Were there any special moments in the day?
7. Don’t stress about what went wrong. While looking for ways to improve a lesson are important, also celebrate those moments that went right.
8. Celebrate the small wins. I ran into a parent after school and she told me her son had come home talking about how he enjoyed class that day. I took that as a win, I must have done something right for a student to go home and talk about what he learned.
9. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know. I feared teaching anything in agriculture mechanics because I felt that I didn’t have enough content knowledge. When I let that fear go I had a blast in the shop and it become one of my favorite subjects to teach.
10. Be involved in the community. The community is truly key to the success of a program. Some of my favorite lesson were when we had community members come into the classroom.
11. Do your best to figure out the work life balance. For me personally I had a lot going on in my life outside of the classroom. For my own sanity I had to figure out the whole balance thing early on and I still struggled from time to time. Most importantly do your best to always give your best in the classroom.
12. There’s no better time to take risks. While we often made jokes about it student teaching is the time to take risks because "hey you won’t be there forever if things go wrong." This is the ultimate time to take chances.
13. Never say no. Go into everything with an open mind. Similar to the taking risks, it's important to always just go for it.
14. Don't compare yourself to others. Coming from a teaching cohort of 11 we were always connecting and collaborating about what was going on at our school. It's sometimes difficult to not compare yourself to others but you are in the place that you are meant to be doing what you were meant to be doing.
15. HAVE FUN! Last but certainly not least, student teaching is an awesome experience so have fun with it. Take chances, go boldly, and leave the impact you were sent there to.
My list could go on and on... Here are some of my biggest "take aways" form my student teaching experience. I am forever grateful for the Opportunities I have had along the way. I look forward to getting started with my future career. A special Good Luck to the other 10 special individuals who stood along side me on this journey, WE DID IT and We Are!